Earth Collective is where you will find Earth-Positive news, stories and inspiration to keep us all motivated, to bring us all hope. Here are some of our recent favourites to get you started.
Humpback whales made a comeback
Humpback whales were once on the verge of extinction. Between 1903 and 1930, numbers were astonishingly low as a result of being hunted for their meat, oil and blubber.
These beautiful creatures were put under protection from the 1960s, which meant their numbers probably started to rise from the 1970s; however, it wasn’t until the first proper assessment in the early 2000s that people realised just how well they were recovering. A 2019 report suggested numbers had risen to just short of 25,000 – much closer to their original numbers of 27,000.
Marine biologists have been recording their return by observing their presence in the oceans, and by surveys from ships and planes off Brazil.
According to the Endangered Species Coalition, thanks to global conservation efforts including the Endangered Species Act, the current population of humpback whales has rebounded to nearly 80,000.
Fossil fuel divestment picked up speed
World leaders seemed to (finally) wake up to the impact of fossil fuels on the environment in 2020, with multiple governments pledging to stop funding fossil fuels, including the UK and Denmark; whilst South Korea, Japan and China all set dates by which to decarbonise their economies and achieve net zero emissions.
These announcements appeared to be driven by a mass movement in big business, as more and more investors turned their back on coal and fossil fuels, in favour of renewable energy.
In 2020, all of Australia’s Big Four banks announced they will stop funding coal; more than 100 investors of Australia’s largest independent coal producer, Whitehaven Coal, filed a resolution asking the company to plan its own closure; and Mark Fawcett, the CEO of the UK’s largest pension fund, Nest, announced it was to divest from firms in coal extraction, tar sands and Arctic drilling, saying: “No-one wants to save throughout their life to retire into a world devastated by climate change.”
Reforestation schemes gathered speed worldwide
In 2019, Research by Swiss experts identified 0.9bn hectares of land worldwide that is suitable for reforestation, and found that the trees planted could remove two-thirds of all the emissions human activity has sent into the atmosphere.
The report triggered local and national governments and businesses to pledge to plant millions of trees. Schemes and projects started all over the world in hope to combat climate change through wide-scale reforestation. The United Nations General Assembly declared 2021 – 2030 the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, aiming to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems as a proven measure to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply and biodiversity.
The replanting schemes have attracted some criticism for taking the focus away from divesting from fossil fuels or rewilding, rather than replanting.
Activist and writer George Monbiot said in a Guardian column: “In many places rewilding, or natural regeneration – allowing trees to seed and spread themselves – is much faster and more effective, and tends to produce far richer habitats.”
So many new species discovered, or rediscovered!
Over the last couple of years, we have had the absolute pleasure of reporting on some amazing, unique and exiting species that have been discovered or rediscovered across the globe.
Some of our favourites include (click to learn more about each):
- The mystery bird that was rediscovered in Indonesia, 172 years after it was last seen.
- The reptile the ‘size of a seed’ that was discovered in Madagascar.
- The 20 unknown species discovered by an “Ecological Swat team” in Andean ‘sky islands’.
- The 500m tall coral reef hidden in the ocean for over 100 years (not a new species, but…still!).
- The “handsome” British spider that was rediscovered after not being seen for 21 years.
- The teenie, tiny Elephant Shrew that was rediscovered after half a century in hiding.
Giraffes were given international protection for the first time ever in 2019
After being classified as a vulnerable” species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to their 36-40% population decline over the past 30 years, Giraffes were given their first ever international protections, through a new Appendix II designation by the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that took place in Geneva in 2019.
Adam Peyman, Humane Society International’s wildlife programs and operations manager, was quoted as saying: “This listing could not come soon enough. CITES listing will ensure that giraffe parts in international trade were legally acquired and not detrimental to the survival of the species.”